The Power of The Mind in the Olympics and Business
When you meet Inga Stasiulionyte be prepared to have your mind blown. By her intelligence, her wit and warmth. We spoke with Inga about motivation — getting it and maintaining it, regardless of what life throws at you. Focus on one goal and damn right go for it. Why do we immediately trust her on this topic? Simple. She is an Olympian athlete and javelin thrower, representing Lithuania in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. She is one of the most self-disciplined people either of us have ever met.
“In order to succeed, you need to keep developing your craft and yourself, like athletes develop their sports technique and their willpower.”
Inga’s dream is to provide others with access to the skillset she learnt over 20 years that helped her win. She describes her new online motivational training business Onbotraining as a ‘mental gym’. More on that later.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s motto is ‘mens et manus’ (with hand and mind). It holds strong parallels with the sport of Javelin. Further on Inga tells us about the power the mind plays in controlling the propulsion of a Javelin. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
What does high performance demand and entail?
High performance is about overcoming barriers, letting go of ego, and having a sharp-focus on achievement. You must know where you want to get to. Let me tell you a story about a wooden box. During training, my coach put me in front of a box, almost hip height. He demanded I jump onto it. It was so scary and I was already having visions of hitting my knees and bleeding if I did not clear the jump, or of slipping and injuring my head. I tried to negotiate with my coach “could we start with a smaller one and build up slowly?” but no, he said “jump” — and I had to jump. That exercise was designed to make me move in the exact way that was perfect for my Javelin throwing.
There is a methodology: you relax, free your mind of clutter, imagine being where you want to get, run your quick check, and get geared up. You must not get lazy or skip any of these processes. It is very important to overcome those feelings that can get in the way of achieving your result.
These concepts and techniques can be applied to self-realisation, and to business. The wooden box story is a metaphor for how you need to approach the business world.
How did you discover the Javelin and how did you end up competing in the Olympics?
I was in my last year of high school in Vilnius when I was scouted by a coach for the national team, whilst doing athletics at school. I was basically hand-picked. The moment that changed my life went like this: “Inga, there’s a man here to see you.” Turns out it was a scout for the national team. The man who discovered me would become my first coach. “You will be a javelin thrower,” he told me. I had never even heard about the sport of Javelin. Within 2 years I was competing with the best athletes in the world. This really illustrates the power of coaching.
What has happened in your world since attending MIT’s Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp?
It makes you stronger. You experience so many things in such a short time and with so many pressure points, familiar and unfamiliar ones. It really compactly compounds on you which is fun and which is painful — if you want to win, if you want to produce results, you have to focus on the DISCIPLINE.
The energy from the people who have been through the process continues on — and then you have the support of that huge network, that you know you can rely on anytime — this is why so many people are coming back. They are as passionately involved. The culture of MIT is what makes it super-special, you have to hack everything. Whatever assumption, whatever rule you have, even Bill Aulet tells you “here are the steps — prove me wrong, prove me wrong and I will be happy if you prove me wrong”.
‘Rinse and repeat’ is now ‘hack and hack’. Non-stop hack! Yourself and the business idea, the product, the process and most importantly the expertise and support from the network. Smashes diversity from all verticals — across industries, across cultures. Everybody has an amazing story.
What impressed me first time is the whole culture of MIT, this is what makes it so special. Their attitude is just to hack everything, and it gets results.
The entrepreneurial path is messy. How do you handle self-doubt?
Life is messy. Actually, self-doubt is a good thing. One way you improve is when you make mistakes. When you fail it makes you open to improvement. This is best way to be. It is when you are open to new, better ways of doing things that your brain will empower you to achieve an emotional transformation.
Both in sports and in business, all these aspects are inter-connected. You can build yourself to be the person you want to be, and build yourself to feel anything you want to feel: this is achieved by receiving the appropriate training.
Now you have designed Onbotraining to be a ‘mental gym’. Tell us more.
Using the Onbotraining framework, we get our clients to start thinking about themselves and their lives in a different way, giving them fresh perspectives. Getting out of your usual way and really starting to understand what you are talking about. You need to dig deeper, challenge yourself. If you are saying you ‘want to be happy’, then you need to ask, ‘what does happiness mean to me?’ Or if you say, ‘I want to be successful’ — what does ‘success’ mean to you? Or ‘I don’t like my job’. What don’t you like about it? Your boss? what you do? the environment? What? Be specific. The key to it is understanding not who you are, but WHY you feel the way you feel.
Learn how to enjoy and embrace problems, find a way to actually enjoy the process of life, focus and immerse yourself in it. The only way you improve is when you makes mistakes. This is when the brain starts expanding and breaking those patterns that were stopping you.
To a lighter question now. ‘Finally’, laughs Inga. Describe your favourite comfort meal? What annual celebration with your family and friends would you travel from the other side of the world not to miss?
I just love so many foods! Shishkabab — Shashlik, marinated meat cooked on a fire. I don’t think meat can be prepared in a better way. Probably because of the simplicity of it — the earthiness, smells, taste. We all need to pay more attention to the small, beautiful moments in life.
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